Disappointing: Obama Administration Won't Support Treaty For Helping Blind Get Digital Books

from the shame dept

JJ points us to an unfortunate story that the Obama administration appears to be siding against an intellectual property treaty agreement that would have helped blind and visually impaired individuals by allowing “the cross-border import and export of digital copies of books and other copyrighted works in formats that are accessible to persons who are blind, visually impaired, dyslexic or have other reading disabilities, using special devices that present text as refreshable braille, computer generated text to speech, or large type.” As the article notes, exceptions to copyright law for the production of books for the blind is common, and effectively this would expand that to ebooks. Many had hoped that the administration would support it… but:

Assurances coming into the negotiations this week that things were going in the right direction have turned out to be false, as the United States delegation has basically read from a script written by lobbyists for publishers, extolling the virtues of market based solutions, ignoring mountains of evidence of a “book famine” and the insane legal barriers to share works.

It continues to be a massive disappointment that politicians keep bowing down to corporate pressure when it clearly goes against the very purpose of copyright law.

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Comments on “Disappointing: Obama Administration Won't Support Treaty For Helping Blind Get Digital Books”

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33 Comments
Rekrul says:

Re: Re:

I can’t believe that the market for books for the blind is so large that they are lobbyists for it. There has to be more to the story than this?

You mis-understand. The lobbyists aren’t working for the people producing books for the blind, they’re working for the book industry in general.

Groups who support the blind wanted exceptions made so that ebooks could be used by blind people. In other words, they wanted to be able to break the DRM to allow those ebooks to be used with readers that would render them in braille or read them aloud and the book industry lobbyists fought against that, arguing that ebooks must[/i> have DRM and that everyone should just let the market sort it out.

Anonymous Coward says:

Unfortunately, there is no way to say that the intended market will be the only people to profit. Instead, it is likely that these audio books would end up widely distributed on the internet for free, harming audio book sales and possibly even harming actual books sales.

Giving everything away for free isn’t the only solution in life.

Rekrul says:

Re: Re: Re:

So why cant that be done now there are ebooks there also are free applications to read text to a person.

Because any ebook you “buy” from a major publisher is going to come saddled with DRM that restricts what you can do with it. Amazon’s Kindle 2 has a text to speech feature, but Amazon bowed to the publishing industry and created a software-controlled kill switch for it. So now any publisher who doesn’t want the Kindle to read their books aloud can simply disable that feature for their book. Why would they do that? Because they can.

Jason says:

Re: Re:

Stupid coward, read the article first! There is NOTHING in there about audio books.

It’s talking about formats that allow the blind to use “special devices that present text as refreshable braille, computer generated text to speech, or large type.”

SO YES you CAN say that this wouldn’t hurt audio book sales unless of course your plan was to make blind people pay more to get an audio book. In which case you were (note the subjunctive here) a jackass.

Ima Fish (profile) says:

extolling the virtues of market based solutions

What a great idea. Let’s get rid of governmental granted monopolies such as copyright, and all the corresponding laws and treaties, and let a truly free market sort this out without any governmental interference!

I’d guess we’d have some real innovation taking place and people would have greater and cheaper access to music, books, movies, etc. What a brave suggestion coming from an industry which has long survived on what is essentially corporate welfare.

FatGiant (profile) says:

Disappointing that polititians are bought by lobbys? How?

By deffinition a polititian is a property bought and payed for. What else can you expect from them?

When I heard my sister saying she was considering a political career, I stopped talking to her for 2 years. She eventually got the message.

I have more respect for drug dealer, that is doing harm to a few kids, then I have for ANY polititian in the world. Those scumbags I consider bellow human.

Apparently, I have seen no actual proof, they provide a service of some kind. Even if that proves to be true, wich I really doubt, one for each city would be more then enough. The rest, well, I can think of several uses, being fertilizer the best so far.

For all of you, that really think a polititian is someone important, I can only say… I just saw Santa Claus having a drink with Superman.

Have a nice one…

Anonymous Coward says:

This is more evidence that most of the laws/acts that the government does support (ie: global acts requiring stricter intellectual property laws) aren’t designed to help the general public, they are designed to help special interest groups. When an act comes along that might actually help poor and powerless people, the government refuses. They only support acts that help the rich and the powerful, the poor and powerless simply get ran over.

Jason (profile) says:

I'm sure not all publishers were part of this lobby...

Baen books has been giving away their books to the handicapped for free, with the assistance of a group called ReadAssist.

http://www.webscription.net/news.aspx?showarticle=2

I’m pretty sure that they’ve been doing it since longer than last November, as I thought I’d originally read about it in ’07, but it’s been a while since I actually looked at the page.

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